Airplane Door Detachment Leads to Flight Cancellations

( – Companies are temporarily grounding full fleets of Boeing 737 Max 9s, about 171 planes in total after a structural failure produced a massive hole in the side of an Alaska Airlines aircraft while it ascended into the sky. The problem area appeared to be an unused exit that had been sealed, but it had left an unstable point in the fuselage. No one was seriously hurt in the incident.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 had a total of 171 passengers and six crew members, according to CNBC. Fortunately for everyone aboard, the plane hadn’t yet hit cruising altitude — when the seatbelt warning light would have turned off, and people would have been allowed to move freely within the cabin — before a huge chunk of its side tore away. Also, no one was seated directly beside the sealed door, where the “explosive” event could have caused injuries.

The plane departed from Portland, Oregon, on the afternoon of January 5 and was just beginning its flight toward Ontario, California, when it had to turn around. Passengers reportedly wore drop-down oxygen masks as the craft safely landed back down.

The New York Times reports that the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident. Officials are looking into whether Alaska Airlines properly handled pressurization warnings, which had reportedly begun sending red flags two days before the door blew loose.

They are also looking for evidence of any work done on the plugged spot prior to the potential tragedy, given a contractor had recently come in to add new wireless internet equipment to the craft. The investigators will compare the damaged area to the intact plug on the opposite side of the aisle, and they plan to interview passengers and flight crew members for any other potential leads.

American Airlines, which also uses Boeing 737 Max 9s with sealed, unused exits, conducted preliminary inspections on all of its affected aircraft in response to the Alaska Airlines incident. They reportedly found loose bolts in some of their plugged doors.

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